EB-5 processing times have been fluid over time. The high-point in processing efficiency was Q3 of FY 2018. Since then, efficiency rates have dropped due to numerous official reasons: court orders due to increased litigation, temporary reassignment of staff, training, the regional center program sunset, changes to ensure integrity and quality assurance, and working with law and regulatory enforcement.
USCIS publishes an estimate of processing times but the range given is not immediately clear to most investors. The first number is the time it takes to process 50% of the applications (the median). As of April 2020, the median for I-526 processing is 30.5 months; and the median for I-829 processing is 22 months.
As of March 31, 2020, USCIS has officially changed their previous “first in, first out” processing approach to one based on “visa availability.” This should mean faster processing for applicants from countries with available visas. As this approach is using Chart B of the Visa Bulletin, every country except for China is “current” as of the start of this system.
On March 13, 2020, USCIS held a public engagement to discuss the new processing approach. Chief of the Immigrant Investor program, Sarah Kendall, made this statement: “With a lot of the infrastructure development now behind us, IPO is better situated to improve productivity. In fact, preliminary data for February shows a step in the right direction.”
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